Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Patient Safety Scores a B-Minus

To Err Is Human Blog Series Logo
This post is part of our two-week series commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the seminal IOM Report "To Err Is Human." To see all posts in the series, please click here.

Patient safety gets a B minus 10 years after IOM released its report To Err is Human. University of California at San Francisco professor and patient safety guru Robert Wachter handed out his grade in an online article for Health Affairs.

Wachter says the U.S. has made “a modest improvement” in safety efforts since 2004, the last time he issued a report card in the same journal. Wachter says the health care field has made “unmistakable progress” in improving patient safety in the past decade, which he admits is “the best we can hope for.”

Areas that have made great strides – more robust accreditation standards and error-reporting requirements – which have forced hospitals to focus more on patient safety.

However, the article also argues that areas such as greater adoption of health IT, which Wacther says has yet to fulfill its promise, and the stronger enforcement of reasonable safety standards such as hand hygiene are still a problem. “It’s time to penalize physicians and others who fail to follow such standards,” he says.

Although interest in balancing a systems-oriented focus with accountability is blossoming, Wachter says the health field still has far to go.

The full article is available here.

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